Polar Bear focuses on accessible content for broad audiences. It has recently completed two co-productions with the Netherlands, Summer Brother by Joren Molter and When We Lost to the Germans by Guido Van Driel, and it is taking Anthony Schatteman's debut feature Young Hearts to this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Young Hearts will have its world premiere at the Berlinale in Generation Kplus 2024 and is also nominated to compete for the GWFF Best First Feature award of 2024.
Working on the feature Summerlight, and then comes the night involved taking Flemish talent to the far north. Based on a popular novel by Icelandic writer Jon Stefansson, it concerns life in a remote village, with its extremes of summer light and winter darkness, and the happiness and sorrow, love and betrayal experienced by the villagers.
Director Elfar Adalsteins and producer Heather Millard of Beserk Films had heard good things about Flanders, and got in touch with Polar Bear in early 2020 to explore co-production possibilities. Founder Xavier Rombaut was able to harness funding from Screen Flanders and the Belgian Tax Shelter, and so to bring in a large creative contribution from Flanders.
The Flemish crew that went to shoot in Iceland included DoP David Williamson, plus the gaffer, grip, and sound. Post-production was also done in Flanders, with Flow Postproduction handling visual effects and the digital intermediate, and Matthias Hillegeer and Agent Flanders working on sound.
Kanun, the third feature by French director Jérémie Guez, takes place much closer to home. Shot entirely in Brussels, it combines a love story and a blood feud playing out in the city’s Albanian criminal underworld.
Polar Bear linked up with lead producer Cheyenne Fédération early on in the project. “The director moved to Brussels and we worked with him on several crucial aspects, such as location hunting and casting,” Rombaut says. “He got to know the Belgian crew quite well, and that produced results he was very happy with.”
This included DoP Grimm Vandekerckhove and art director Geert Paredis. A lot of the post-production also took place in Flanders, with Flow Postproduction taking care of visual effects, grading, digital intermediate and sound post-production. Financing came from Screen Flanders and the Belgian Tax Shelter.
Co-producing with Polar Bear
Alongside its own productions, Polar Bear is looking for European co-productions involving original directors telling authentic stories.
We have a strong network and can offer connections to talent, to crews, to studios, and to post-production. And we can offer our experience in a lot of different areas.
The next releases from Polar Bear include Young Hearts, a touching story of two young boys falling in love with each other, and Dutch co-production The Idyll, a black comedy about six characters united in loneliness, directed by Aaron Rookus.
Why co-produce with Flanders?
The Flanders Region boasts highly skilled talent both in front and behind the camera, authentic film locations, state-of-the-art studio complexes, animation studios, and post-production services. Want to learn more about co-production possibilities and partnerships with Flanders? Discover our testimonials archive, which can be searched by key word.
Apply for funding
With a budget of 3.5 million euros the Screen Flanders Economic Fund invests in approx. 20 projects each year. Producers wanting to collaborate with Flanders can apply for funding to cover part of their production expenses in the Region. Foreign producers interested in applying can co-produce with a Belgian producer.